Surprise winner for richest photo award

Surprise winner for richest photo award
Mr Venka Purushothaman, a judge of Icon de Martell Cordon Bleu 2013, on winner Sarah Choo's (inset) work, which includes After (left).

SINGAPORE - A 23-year-old fresh graduate is the surprise winner of Singapore's richest photography award.

Sarah Choo, who graduated from the Nanyang Technological University, beat seven shortlisted photographers including some prominent names, to win the $30,000 Icon de Martell Cordon Bleu 2013. The annual prize, now in its fourth edition, recognises Singapore's outstanding photographers based on a body of work. It is launched by the world's oldest cognac house, Martell.

Choo was picked by a five-member jury led by French curator of photography, Agnes de Gouvion Saint-Cyr, who used to be with the French Ministry of Culture. The other jury members included internationally renowned Magnum photographer Gueorgui Pinkhassov as well as Mr Venka Purushothaman, provost, Lasalle College of the Arts.

The awards were given out last Thursday night at Chan Hampe Galleries at Raffles Hotel by Nominated Member of Parliament Janice Koh.

Saint-Cyr, 68, president of the jury, said the submissions "reflected a range of photographic styles and genres. It was interesting to see how diverse Singapore photography is on Friday and the submissions opened up interesting new discoveries".

Choo's series of work explored issues of identity and acceptance by portraying the act of acquiring possessions.

She was the winner of the Highly Commended Award in the 2007 UOB Painting of the Year Competition and has exhibited locally and internationally. She will be studying for a master's in fine arts at the UCL Slade School of Fine Art in London.

Mr Purushothaman, 48, said her images "signal the future of photography where the line between different media is blurred. What stood out for me was her approach to her work".

He called it "multi-disciplinary" as she fuses moving and still images, painting and performance to achieve her final artwork - the photograph".

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